Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Boxing Day On The Beach

It was a sunny day, and I went out for a drive to Burnham, where there is a restaurant I thought Id go to for lunch. Although it had been snowing for much to the last week, the roads were wet but fine, and the sun shining on the snowy fields made the countryside very scenic. Even so, some of the side roads seemed to be still covered with ice, so I was thinking I’d stay to the main roads where I could.

After a while I arrived at the place I was heading for, but it was shut! Yes, I could have phoned them first, but it was a last minute decision. Since I was here, I turned around and went back, and turned into Beach Road to get to the beach. This road was slushy, and there were a number of cars coming away, so I waited for them to come along before I went down the road. When I got to the parking lot, I was amazed at the number of cars there - and also by the large puddles and mud!

I looked for somewhere to park that wasn't too wet, changed into my walking shoes, and put on my hat and gloves before venturing out. I set out across the quagmire and up through the sand dunes onto the beach.

There are indeed a number of people here, but the first thing I notice is a memorial plaque to someone drowned on this beach - a solemn reminder that the sea is not to be taken lightly. The tide is quite high and I walk on fairly firm sand, collecting some shells as I go. There is a large piece of drift wood - more like a small tree - in the middle of the beach - people are using this as a photo opportunity, and it does look strange, rising up out of the sand like a swimmer out of the water. Ahead I see what I take to be a kite being flown - as I get closer I see that it is a form of kite, but it’s being used by someone who is standing on a kind of skate board, and is sand-surfing!

I walk around an inlet and then up over the sand dunes into a sandy area with tough long grass - I think that this must be a blissful area in the summer, and even now in mid winter is exudes a feeling of calm serenity. It also shields me form the wind, and as I mount the sand dune to go back onto the beach I’m hit again by the cold blast.

Coming down to the beach again, one of the many dogs that are here on the beach bounds up towards me - I go to greet him, but he veers off at the last moment - just as well because I then see that he is soaking wet from the sea! I re-trace my steps and then go past the path I came in on and further down the beach. Just to one side I see a couple of buckets left there - has someone been building sandcastles? And why did they leave their tools here?

By now the sun is starting to sink below the dunes, making for a dramatic skyline, and it is noticeable that more birds are flying over the beach coming in from their feeding grounds to roust for the night. Before it gets too dark, I turn and go back to the path leading to the parking lot. But as I climb the dunes for the last time and look over towards the setting sun, I see an enormous flock of birds away in the distance. I stop to watch as they swoop across the sky to their rousting grounds, a fitting end to a wild walk on the beach.